By Sam Coles:
As I have said before, as I get older my gaming choices tend to take a slower pace. Now this is nothing to do with my reflexes being shot, far from it my reflexes are the best they have ever been. I just like to slow down and zone out where I figuratively and literally stop and smell the roses. I want to go other some of the games that have enthralled me over the years, where I can just look around with no particular goal or just games that take a more relaxed approach.
I can hear you all sigh with content and thinking “Oh god he’s talking about Oblivion again”. Yes while I do like to talk about this game a lot, that is because it has had a massive impact on my life even 12 years later I have a sense of wonder when I boot it up. The beauty of Oblivion is that you can take things in your stride; the game doesn’t really force to do a certain thing in a set path, with the exception of the dungeon escape. I always find myself exploring to see what settlements I could uncover and what ruins there are to uncover artefacts and weapons. Not only that Jeremy Soule’s melodic tones really help, with the soothing welcoming tunes as you walk through the market at dawn, to the emotional scores as you are traverse the fields of Cyrodiil. It never gets old and ages better (mostly) as the years go by.
The original Red Dead Redemption (yes I have to say that now), is one that is truly special to me, it got me through a tough time when I found my A-Level studies were weighing on me. When the game came out it consumed my summer in 2010, I could just load the game up and explore the plains of New Austin and Mexico. Like most Rockstar open worlds you can just do anything, but Red Dead took a slower approach which was thematically appropriate given its western setting. It is always a joy to lose oneself in the world of Red Dead, were you can stumble across interesting characters who want to talk, or rob and mutilate your corpse. Again the game doesn’t really force you down a set path, I can’t tell you enough the amount of things I found just going off the beaten path. Where I found camps left for the wildlife, to poor and helpless men and women with broken down stage coaches.
I know it may be a stock standard answer when it comes to The Witcher 3, but you have to recognise an achievement in terms of storytelling and role playing in interactive form. When they first said that The Witcher was going open world, I was hesitant but as I thought about it more it made sense. Every time I boot up The Witcher 3 I tend to just slowly walk around taking things in, whether it be the cobbled streets of Novigrad or the boggy swamps of Velen. It’s the attention to detail which make me to take my time and explore the nooks and crannies of the environments, coupled with the fantastic musical score from the Polish folk band Percival. It’s a game that encourages you to take your time, and almost pokes you saying “do you see that abandoned hut over there? Take a look”. It’s that organic nature of the game that makes it fun to explore.
Now this last example may make you call my gaming credibility into question just hear me out, Two Worlds II has a beautiful environment that makes you want explore its entirety. Yes this game has a lot of issues with animations, voice acting and to put it politely questionable controls. However it has this slow and steady pace to it where I like to look around the varied environments which you don’t often see in medieval style RPGs, you start off in a beautiful African Savanna to a village that resembles Feudal Japan. It’s not the most technically polished game, but it is a true testament of how they managed to produce such a visually pleasing world to explore, it was an apology letter in video game form after the disastrous first game.
Those are just a few examples of games where I just like to slow down and take my time, or smell the roses as it were. The next time you play a game just stop and take the time to appreciate the subtle things, you may find something special that others will not even bat an eyelid at. This is what makes the interactive medium special, that everyone has a different experience.